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November 2, 2017 In this edition:
Horror movies follow unique and immutable laws of physics. There's never anything in the back seat unless you forget to check it. Brand new cars with the sticker still on the window will refuse to start when zombies attack. Even with a full gas tank and 35 mpg, you're going to end up with an empty tank on a deserted highway with no shelter but a creepy haunted old mansion. Sound like some of your projects? We thought so too. Here are our favorite rules and tools for surviving a (project) horror movie. (And help yourself to some of the leftover Halloween candy, please. The sugar rush is starting to get to us.)
» Featured Article
» From the Blogs
» How to Survive a Project Horror Show
» Where's ProjectConnections?
» Corporate Subscriptions

Featured Article
The Insidious Evil of Templates
Kent McDonald

Kent McDonald That's a pretty bold title for an article on a site that offers subscriptions for templates and checklists. Perhaps I should explain.

I was working with a team recently helping them to address some challenges they were having with backlog refinement. As we discussed a couple of different tools to help them with backlog refinement, a couple of people said, "You know, I think we do that, but it ends up being a 'check the box' activity. We do it to say we do it, but then move on, and we never really seem to put any thought into it. So we technically do it, but we don't see the benefit from doing it that we just talked about."

And there, my friend, is the insidious evil of templates and checklists.

Do you have a Jekyll and Hyde relationship with your project methodology tools? Kent McDonald may know why. »

From the Blogs
5 Reasons Your Agile Transformation Sucks, by Brian Irwin
I see patterns at virtually every client organization over the past several years that are predictably similar. The five reasons outlined below are just a few of the reasons you're probably struggling.

PMBOK 6th Edition Highlights: Role of the Project Manager, by Sinikka Waugh
Last month, we looked at a high-level overview of all of the changes. This month, we're starting our deeper dive into the specific changes, starting with the role of the Project manager, which PMI declared was different in the 6th Edition. So let's take a quick look at the role of the PM, and how it's described in PMBOK Guide 6th Edition.

How to Survive a Project Horror Show
Never Do Anything on a Dare - New Product/Project Business Plan – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until November 16, 2017
New Product/Project Business Plan Any idea that's followed by the words "that would be really cool" is a good candidate for a stop, look, and think approach. Sticking your hand into dank, musty markets or spending the night in an abandoned product line in order to impress the execs is only going to work if you don't lose something important (like reputation, capital, or critical project resources). This template walks you through the entire rationale, so you can assess new ideas in a consistent, repeatable fashion that allows you to compare their benefits against each other as well as against objective reality. (Hint: Talking dolls are pretty much always a bad idea.)

Don't Pick Up Hitchhikers - Project Scope Definition: Deliverables – PREMIUM
A little yes here, a little yes there, and before you know it you're careening down the road with a homicidal clown and a guy with bolts sticking out of his neck. You'll never get to that quaint little town festival in the middle of nowhere if you keep stopping to pick up strangers. This worksheet helps you keep the project goals in clear view, and makes it very obvious what is out-of-bounds. Having a common understanding of these boundaries, in a simple "is/is-not" form, reduces do-overs and makes it easier to sort out requests that make sense and those that should prompt you to hit the door locks and floor it.

Don't Fool Around with Recombinant DNA Technology Unless You Know What You're Doing
Project Alternatives Tradeoff Table
Before you decide to throw in a little frog DNA just to round out the edges, make sure you've really thought it through. This table format provides a concise way to document, analyze, and communicate the scope and feature alternatives for your project. Consider and capture the critical factors, and compare the impact of various combinations on cost, schedule, resources, risk, and potential staff loss to rampaging carnivorous reptiles.

Never Read the Book of Demon Summoning Aloud, Even As a Joke
Rescuing and Revitalizing the Problem Project
No, that's not Latin, and no, you don't want to read it. Mumbling counts too. If you insist on bringing something back from the dead, there's a right way and a wrong way to do it, and the right way almost never involves shovels or incantations. Cinda Voegtli's paper on saving an apparently doomed project tells you how to raise the mostly dead and survive the experience, without selling your soul to anyone. (Amulet of banishment not included.)

Turn On the Lights - Project Status Reports – PREMIUM
Something's gone bump in the night, so you fumble around for a bit, see something scampering around out of the corner of your eye, and announce with a relieved sigh that "it was just the cat." Wouldn't it be a lot easier and less stressful if you flipped on the light switch? This template includes several different one-page document formats for getting a true picture of a project or portfolio at a glance, and a presentation format for talking to management -- everything you need to make sure that no one (including you) is stumbling around in the dark.

P.S.: It Wasn't Just the Cat - Executive Summary of Project Status/Risks – MEMBER
That little scamper you saw out of the corner of your eye? It was actually the cat trying to get the heck away from the giant ax-wielding maniac wreaking havoc on the other side of the room. (This is why turning on the lights is so important.) Sure would be nice if you had a high-level view of everything that's going on right now. This easily scanned form was designed to keep executives -- who never read more than a page no matter what's chasing them -- up to date on project progress, by showcasing all the major project parameters: scope, goals, resources, expenses, and risks. A compact form like this is a great overview for project managers as well as execs; it doesn't leave ax-wielding maniacs anywhere to hide.

Look Behind You - Lessons Learned Meeting Agenda – MEMBER
How much carnage would be averted if people would just look over their shoulder once in a while? Reviewing the lessons learned from previous projects gives you a front-row view of the bogeymen that stalked them. If you don't have these invaluable records from the previous team(s), consider calling the lessons learned meeting yourself. Even if you're calling on memories from months ago, people have an amazing capacity to remember disastrous results and near misses, and will probably be able to tell you right where the bogeymen are hiding. Shouldn't you know too?

Some Things Are Better Left Buried - Project Cancellation Guidelines – PREMIUM
If the developers have already started speaking in tongues and no one has seen the testing department since that bright blue light appeared, it might be time to pack it in and move on to the next town. This guideline will help you make a clean getaway, and make sure no one gets left behind. Except, of course, for the creepy guys speaking in dead languages they're not supposed to know.

It's Never Over till the Credits Roll - Customer Acceptance Checklist and Signoff – PREMIUM
It's not enough to have the strange mystic peek in the corners and assure you that "this project is clean." Until you've gone through every room, you'll still be waiting for something to jump out of the woodwork. Get a thorough checklist, and make sure someone (preferably someone else) checks everything -- including the attic, the basement, and the last-minute add-on at the back of the stairs. Then and only then can you declare the nightmare over, roll credits, and move on to the sequel.

Where's ProjectConnections?
Randy Englund and Alfonso Bucero invite you to join them for "Integrate People, Organizational, and Technical Skills: The Complete Project Manager." This informative, interactive, productive, and fun in-person seminar is sponsored by PMI SeminarsWorld. The focus is on integrated people skills. Get PDUs, and a copy of their book, while advancing your professional career. Join them in Miami December 4-7.

Corporate Subscriptions and Licensing
Want your team members to have their own access to templates and how-to resources for their project work? Need to share documents and deliverables beyond your project team? We make it easier with affordable corporate subscriptions and licensing. Detailed information regarding corporate options is available online. Give your whole team, or even the entire organization, cost-effective access to our comprehensive online library of resources. You already know how helpful it's been for you. Now it's time to share with everyone else. Find out more »

Not sure if corporate terms apply to you? Check out our licensing terms at the top of our Terms of Service page, in refreshingly ordinary, everyday English.

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